Malignancies arising from the aerodigestive epithelium, including lung, head and neck, and esophageal carcinomas, are the leading causes of cancer-related mortality worldwide.
The biological importance of epidermal growth factor receptor in cancer development and progression has been established.
Because of this, epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitors have emerged as promising novel therapies.
Dr Michalis Karamouzis and colleagues from Pennsylvania, USA summarized the current status of epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitors in aerodigestive carcinomas.
The team have highlighted ongoing research designed to optimize their therapeutic effectiveness, and consider the future role of these agents.
The research team performed a systematic MEDLINE search of English-language literature 1966 to 2007.
|Multiple epidermal growth factor receptor inhibition strategies are under evaluation|
|Journal of the American Medical Association|
The team used the terms epidermal growth factor receptor, epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitors, monoclonal antibodies, and tyrosine kinase inhibitors.
Search terms including lung cancer, head and neck cancer, esophageal cancer, and epidermal growth factor receptor predictive factors were also used.
Quality assessment of selected studies included clinical pertinence.
To minimize bias, the team considered controlled study design, and publication in peer-reviewed journals.
Adequate number of enrolled patients, objectivity of measurements, and techniques used were also assessed by the researchers.
The team found that the role of the epidermal growth factor receptor in aerodigestive carcinomas pathogenesis has been extensively studied.
The researchers observed that multiple epidermal growth factor receptor inhibition strategies are under evaluation.
Erlotinib, an epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor used as a single agent has shown survival benefit in 1 trial of patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer.
The team noted that cetuximab, an anti- epidermal growth factor receptor monoclonal antibody used in combination with radiation, has also conferred survival benefit in 1 trial of patients with locally advanced head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.
However, other trials have not shown these degrees of improvement.
Epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitors toxicities include rash, diarrhea, and hypomagnesemia.
Somatic mutations and other molecular tumoral characteristics offer opportunities for treatment individualization and optimal patient selection for anti-epidermal growth factor receptor therapy.
Dr Karamouzis' team commented, "Epidermal growth factor receptor is a promising therapeutic target in aerodigestive carcinomas."
"Further translational research is needed to optimize ways of inhibiting epidermal growth factor receptor using single-agent or combination regimens and to identify patients who benefit the most from these therapies."